MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Wednesday, March 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Commentary now from WORLD founder Joel Belz.
JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: A recent visitor to my office posed a question: “Do you really think it’s possible that we might elect a self-professed socialist to our presidency before this year is out? How could that conceivably happen?”
Well, yes, I do think it could conceivably happen. Not likely, I add. But so many other unlikely things have happened in this topsy-turvy world that I’m reluctant to call anything impossible.
So I felt affirmed a couple of days later when the lead editorial in The Wall Street Journal said Bernie Sanders had become a favorite to win the Democratic nomination for president. The editorial expressed doubt that Sanders can beat Donald Trump in November.
But what really got my attention was the Journal’s main point. It raised my visitor’s second question: “How could that conceivably happen?”
To answer that, the Journal editors cite our nation’s academy and media tilt toward the explicitly socialist agenda—a comprehensive welfare state. Quoting now: “[The academy and media] created the political environment in which he [Sanders] could prosper.” End quote.
The Journal writers point to four specific examples:
- America’s historic commitment to capitalism and the “free market” is so overwhelmingly rejected in both contexts.
- The rise of left-wing intolerance on campus.
- Seeing America as “irredeemably racist.”
- Espousing climate change as religion more than science.
Is this a gigantic conspiracy? Hardly. This is a worldview so far-reaching that no world leader could conceivably coordinate all its facets. The movement has operated far longer than most of us have been around. And most of it’s been in the open.
Maybe that’s why the Journal’s typically insightful writers missed an important piece of the story in their analysis: They completely ignored the role of America’s public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.
When you total up the impact on a young girl or boy over 180 days a year, for 13 years, you hardly need to analyze the content of that instruction. Just think about the colleges and universities that shaped most of the teachers in today’s schools, and you’ll understand why so many educators sound like socialists.
The content of the classes is not the only thing profoundly shaping students. Day-by-day, intergenerational contact also plays a big role. Reliance on government is assumed throughout the process. Nobody needs to call it “socialism.”
Recent statistics suggest the number of Americans who got their education from regular public schools has dropped from 90 percent to 80 percent. That’s a happy development for the students and their families.
But it’s still almost certainly a case of “too little, too late.” Despite some good teachers and students spread among that 80 percent, the vast majority of Americans will be led to believe socialism is a fine replacement for the principled capitalism that has served America so well.
I’m Joel Belz.